Meta (YAR)

Posts about the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog.

YAR’s word cloud as interpreted by Wordle

This evening while browsing the 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year I came across Wordle, a wonderful tool for building word clouds.

What are word clouds? We’ve actually already got our own rather dull cloud of post tags tag cloud way down there on the right hand column. In this case the categories most often used are larger and the categories less often used are smaller.

The first cloud below is based on all the words in recent posts on YAR and the second on all recent comments on YAR. The bigger the word, the more often it is used. I think you’ll agree its a fun and informative look.:

YAR posts
Wordle: YAR - Feb 9, 2008
YAR comments
Wordle: YAR comments - Feb 9, 2008
Note that both of these representations are fleeting as they change as soon as the next comment or post is added.

Why aren’t more women commenting?

Urbanmenno and Lora have posted comments that address an issue I’ve been meaning to raise for months. We finished up a poll last month that made it clear that the site as a whole has a larger male readership then female (64% male and 36% female). But the ratio of women to men in comments seems to be much lower then that. I’m reproducing Urbanmennos and Lora’s comments here because I think they need more visibility then the tail end of an unrelated post:

Urbanmenno says:

Tim made a good comment on in regards to the above Menno Roundup referencing this post’s discussion and in fairness to all involved, I’ll post it here as well

Tim’s comment:

I’m one of the men who was involved in the discussion you referenced on YAR. Initially I was chastened by your comment, but I’ve done some more thinking about it, and I think when it comes to anti-sexism work, women shouldn’t always have to be the ones defending equality. Sometimes men need to confront men about sexism and not expect women to do the work.

Maybe no one’s going to change anyone’s mind, but blatant sexism and oppression need to be challenged. Silence is not the solution.

Urbanmenno’s response:

I actually think there are a lot of men on YAR who do a great job of speaking up for women’s equality and I applaud them. And I don’t have a problem at all with the men defending the good fight. Particularly since it can be really hard as a female to keep having these kinds of conversations over and over again — soul-killing actually.

I drew attention to the post not to chastise any of the men involved. I saw the post and resulting comments more as another example of where women are talked about and not talked with. It would be interesting to take that particular post and ask the general YAR audience why didn’t women comment on it … (more…)

New buttons to make commenting easier

I’m pleased to announce a new feature on YAR. When adding a comment you can click the “>>” button above the text field and you will see a whole row of useful buttons pop out. These buttons will allow you to do all sorts of nice things, like easily add links (“link” button) or put nice styling around quotes (“B-quote” to open and “/B-quote” to close). Try it out and experiment. Remember that you often need to close a tag after you open it. Just don’t overdo the styling.

Moving from Tired to Rewired?

Okay, it’s a corny rhyme, but given the wildly active response to Katie’s post, I’d like to propose a simple, concrete step to try to address the concerns Katie and many others of your raised. Way down the comment thread at slot #59 I mentioned a system that would allow users to rate posts and thereby democratically moderate what shows up on the blog.

I did a little more research today and discovered a way to implement the first part of this proposal: enabling voting on posts. This system could provide an easy way for folks to offer feedback on what posts they appreciate and which they don’t. Here’s an example of the system in action (see the stars at the bottom of every post):

The voting doesn’t have any effect on posts it just provides information for readers, writers and editors. What do you all think? Would this tool be a useful addition to YAR? Would it help to clarify what posts are useful? Or would it just end up being a tool for dissing people you don’t agree with?

YAR 2.5

We did a bit of updating on the back end of this here radical blog. You’ll notice it if you log in. We’ve gone all 2.5, but it took a bit to work out the kinks. Sorry if we had you worried. Wouldn’t want you to miss out on the latest. If you notice anything suspicious, let us know. Anything. Especially unattended baggage.


A little while ago, I got an email from Tim relating to the latest poll. He wanted to know if I had any thoughts to share on the issue of gender balance and women’s participation in particular on YAR. This has been discussed some before on YAR but it continues to be an issue. This is pretty much what I sent him, but he’s currently out of the country and I felt compelled to share it now.

As many of you know, I used to write more and now I don’t at all. This is largely due to being back in school and spending a lot less time in front of my computer and thinking about being young, anabaptist, or radical. If I really wanted to, I could make time to read YAR more than I do, even comment and contribute.

But I got tired. I got tired of the same stupid discussions over and over with basically the same person (actually different people, but it started to feel so familiar). I got tired of watching my friends and allies get tired and burned out (sometimes they just got quieter, sometimes they gave up and walked away in frustration), I got tired of having to defend my own existence and belief to straight white men who, as a friend of mine so aptly described it, “come on the blog for a while and do the virtual equivalent of beating their chests and yelling.”* (more…)

Tom Sine wants to know what you’re doing

The New ConspiratorsBack in September, Tom Sine emailed me asking if members of YAR could read over the manuscript for The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time. I emailed it out to regular contributors and invited feedback. The book looks at four streams of new Christian Expression – emerging, missional, mosaic and monastic. We’ll have a review of the book here on YAR coming soon.

The weekend before last, a bunch of folks (including a few from our sister network, the submergents) got together for the New Conspirators conference in Seattle. You can read Mark Van Steenwyk’s concluding report for the New Conspirators conference at Jesus Manifesto. It sounds an exciting time for folks from many streams to incubate ideas and imagine together. I very much wish I could have been there.

Today, I got an email from Tom with the following request:

Christine and I have been invited to keynote at the Mennonite Conference for North America in July. We would like to share bit of what you and your compatriots in the network are doing. Could you send me concrete examples of projects you are involved with? Could you also send me any creative examples of younger Anabaptists who are creating new expressions of church, community, advocacy, celebration and mission? We want to put older Mennos in touch with what you and other younger leaders are doing.


Things we don’t talk much about on YAR

Today while looking at the category list on YAR I noticed several categories with just a handful of posts. It’s interesting to see which these are. I should note some of these are topics we do address but for some reason don’t categorize our posts as.

But for the others, are these topics that don’t interest you? Would you like to start talking about them more?

Chosenness (2 posts)
New Monasticism (1 post)
Consumerism (4 posts)
Corporations (1 post)
Death Penalty (1 post)
Economics (2 posts)
Education (3 posts)
End Times (1 post)
Environment (2 posts)
Ethics (2 posts)
Ex-Gay (1 post)
Excommunication (2 posts)
Foreign Policy (4 posts)
Gaza (1 post)
God (4 posts)
Guns (1 post)
Hamas (1 post)
Hate (1 post)
Illegal (1 post)
Immigration (3 posts)
Indigenous (3 posts)
Israel (2 posts)
Judaism (3 posts)
Loyalty (3 posts)
Music (4 posts)
Objective (4 posts)
Palestine (1 post)
Peace (4 posts)
Polarization (4 posts)
Poll (4 posts)
Pope (2 posts)
Rape (1 post)
Reviews (1 post)
Schism (2 posts)
Science (1 post)
Sex (4 posts) (Compare this to 8 under “Homosexuality” and 28 under “LGBTQ”)
Sports (1 post)
Stewardship (2 posts)
Stories (2 posts)
Theater (1 post)

YAR Anniversary Poem

YAR – [a work in progress]

scattered strangers –
exiles and
in-track anabap.tists
glasses half-empty, but mostly half-full
fingers fire across keys
punching out the truth
their truth
a truth
hoping sharing
will ease the loneliness
of living as black sheep
or the cramp
of working out the pearl from the sand
– together forming community.

YAR 1st Anniversary Week: What has YAR meant to you?

A year ago this week, Eric wrote the first post on this blog. In honor of our first anniversary, I’d like to invite you all to share a post reflecting on the last year in any way you see fit.

Feel free to focus on a theme that we’ve talked about on the blog (i.e. tradition or politics. You can write a poem, an essay or paint a painting. See the YAR archive tag cloud if you need a memory jog on what we write about.

Please try to post your 1st anniversary reflections before August 31st, our official anniversary.

Anonymity and Internet communities

These thoughts are partially inspired by some recent conversations with a few YAR writers, and folknotions’ post on the San Jose YAR meetup.

I’ve been thinking recently about the strange aspect of anonymity that makes this and other online communities distinct from print publications, face-to-face discussions, etc. In the past few years I’ve had on-and-off involvement in a few online Mennonite communities — some more anonymous than others (for instance, Yahoo group “MennoNet” was a frustrating waste of time). Ultimately, one of the aspects that frustrates me when taking part in these groups is the aspect of anonymity and lack of community — where I feel like writers aren’t willing to remain accountable to each other, take responsibility for what they write, and generally maintain a level of respect and decency. I certainly don’t think this is happening here (and I don’t mean to be targeting people with creative usernames here), but in other groups it often reaches a point where people seem to regress to name-calling and attacks, partially because they can hide behind their cryptic usernames. Again, I don’t see that happening here.

That being said, I’ve also found myself wanting to know more about my fellow writers here on YAR, beyond the regular posts on ethics/theology/ecclesiology. (more…)

San Jose YAR Meetup

I was really excited to meet some of the YAR authors/lurkers at the San Jose conference this week, to hear of the kind of things you are doing inside and outside the Church, and to hear the insights you had about the future of the church.

On Wed, July 4th, several YAR authors and sympathizers had dinner and discussed issues that they felt were pressing in the church. Here are my notes from the meeting. (more…)

Time and Place for YAR gathering in San Jose

For YAR writers and readers out there who are attending San Jose 2007, we’ve decided to gather for supper on Wednesday evening at 5:30 pm at the Tandori Restaraunt at 109 S. First Street (link to a map of the location on Google). This will be an opportunity to put some faces with the names we’ve been seeing on this blog for the last 10 months. See you there! If you need to get in touch with me you can call me at 312-505-7461.
Feel free to invite people who are interested in writing for YAR.

Young Anabaptist Radicals in The Mennonite

Since the middle of May, we’ve been publishing weekly summaries of Young Anabaptist Radicals blog posts in TMail, the new weekly email of The Mennonite. In exchange for a years worth of summaries (written by various YAR authors), next year in May The Mennonite will be making a $1000 donation to the AMIGOS fund to help Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Anabaptist-related young people from all over the world to attend the Global Youth Summit (GYS) in Paraguay 2009. Read more about this effort on the Mennonite World Conference web site.

If you’d like to subscribe to TMail, you can do so from the front page of The Mennonite in the green box on the right hand side of the page. Along with the blog summaries it includes a selection of articles from the print magazine and some weekly columns.

Finally, if you’re a YAR author and interested in helping to write a few weeks worth of summaries, email