Messiah College historian John Fea awarded bald blogging with a 2009 Inspiration Award. Thanks, John!
I first met John in 2004 at the Conference on Faith and History bi-annual meeting in Holland, Michigan. At the time I was a third-year Ph.D. student, and if memory serves me correctly John gave a keynote address for the student presenters. I was (and am still) grateful for his reflections on finding balance in one's life amidst the busy nature of graduate school. I re-connected (pardon the pun) with John in 2007 through the Religion in American History blog, and have enjoyed our recent electronic exchanges. I should also say that I enjoyed his book on Philip Vickers Fithian.
While I suppose an Inspiration Award carries with it the responsibility to continue offering inspirational blog posts, more immediately I must pay if forward and bestow Inspiration Awards on 5-7 other blogs that inspire me (Feeling generous, or rather super inspired, so I doled out 9 awards.)
So, in no particular order, here goes.
1. The Way of Improvement Leads Home. That's right, John's blog inspires me too. I'm impressed with his blogging energy, and I always look forward to reading his historically grounded, thoughtful analyses of contemporary politics. I'm equally impressed with the way that he relates moments in the life of Philip Vickers Fithian to so many contemporary realities. John brings history alive this way, and I'm sure his classroom is the same way.
2. The Professor (formerly The Proletarian). This is the blog of my teaching colleague and good friend Edward Carson. I met Eddie two years ago and with our mutual interests we became fast friends. The Professor's blog is a gold mine of teaching reflections, political analysis, and all around solid commentary. I should add that Eddie's a fantastic teacher and lecturer. He's also marathon runner. And I'm thrilled that we are currently working on a book together. We will unveil the details of this project at a later date.
3. The Next Generation of Educational Leadership. This is the blog of educator, author, school administrator, athlete, and all around Renaissance man Nathan Barber. Nathan served as Dean of Students for a year at Second Baptist School in Houston, and I truly count it a highlight of my teaching career to have worked with him. Life is not the same without Nathan, but he's making a huge impact in Baton Rouge. Thanks to the world wide web I continue to draw inspiration from him.
4. Religion in American History. Like John, the efforts of Paul Harvey and Kelly Baker and my other co-editors are truly inspiring. In fact, I happened across one of Paul's class blogs a few years ago and his example, in part, inspired me to use a blog in my classroom. Religion in American History is one of the first blogs I visit each day. I continue to learn tons from the conversations going on there.
5. Musings of a Postmodern Negro. This is the blog of my good buddy Anthony Smith. I met Anthony almost 5 years ago, and his friendship means the world to me. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, in so many ways he saved my life. His blog is creative, inventive, prophetic, and honest. As with other readers of his blog, I wish he'd blog more often.
6. The Homeless Guy. This is the blog of Nashville resident Kevin Barbieux. The subtitle of his blog says it all: "There's more to homeless people than being homeless." Kevin gives me tons to think about and is a voice for the voiceless. I've never met Kevin in person, but keep up with him through his blog and through one of my former students who knows him. I hope to meet Kevin one day. I want to shake his hand, give him a hug, and simply say "thanks."
7. Brands of Faith. This is media scholar and author Mara Einstein's blog. If you have not done so, you should read her fine book Brands of Faith. It adds some serious and critical perspective to the confluences of media, religion, and marketing in the present day. Mara's blogposts always inspire me to analyze contemporary religious culture in ways I've not thought about. I look forward to her next book on religion and contemporary culture.
8. Praxis Habitus: Blogging Race Religion & Culture. This is the personal blog of Davidson College sociologist Gerardo Marti. Having already heard of and read his work on multiracial churches, I had the privilege to officially meet and spend some time with Gerardo last fall when he was a visiting professor at Rice. Our conversations were lively, engaging, and thoughtful, and I'm glad to keep up with Gerardo through his blog. It is a treasure of cultural analysis and features commentary on the latest work in sociology of religion. There's never a dull moment at Praxis Habitus.
9. JazzTheologian.com: Syncopating, Improvising and Responding to the Call of a Love Supreme. This is the website and blog of Colorado pastor Robert Gelinas. I first met the Jazz Theologian about 4 years ago on-line, and I've regularly read his blog since. And if theology is about application, then Robert is a true theologian. He labors regularly for the saints there in Colorado and has nine children. The majority of Robert's kid's are adopted, so there's no doubt that the Jazz Theologian and his wife know how to syncopate, improvise, and respond to the call of a love supreme. (I should add that I'm looking forward to reading Robert's first book Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith--due out in April--as well as his second, Strange Fruit: A Jazz-Shaped Response to the Call of the Cross, due out in 2010.)
The rules stipulate that those who accept an Inspiration Award (1) put the logo of the award on their blog if you can make it work with their format (the painting of Marie Antoinette); (2) link to the person from whom you received the award; (3) nominate 5-7 other blogs (sorry, had to do 9); (4) put the links of those blogs on your blog.
However, I'd like to add an optional fifth requirement: post a picture/image of a person you find inspirational and explain why.
Here's mine: James Baldwin.
I first started reading James Baldwin 4 years ago, and his books have been at my fingertips and in my briefcase ever since. Along with the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, Baldwin's writing has transformed my outlook on life. Suffice it to say that since beginning to read Baldwin I’ve discovered many times he seems to know me better than I know myself, and his pointed honesty calls me to be more authentic.