A while back I posted a call for panel ideas for the Progressive Faith Blog Con. I'm delighted with the response; we've brainstormed a terrific list of possible panels. They aggregate loosely into three categories:
Religion and ecumenism
Is our religious blogosphere open or closed? Is there communication and community across denominational (or faith) lines, or are we circling the wagons and conversing only with our own?
Deep ecumenism in the blogosphere: how can we ensure that our connections with one another go beyond blogrolling and into real dialogue? Do we agree that we want to broaden our religious worlds by connecting with bloggers of other traditions, and if so, how can we enact that in reality? How about connecting with bloggers who share our religious labels, but don't share our approach to our traditions?
Scripture study: Many of us use our blogs for scripture study and text discussion. How can we learn from and with one another?
Different ways of praying/knowing God; learning more about the rituals and traditions of other faiths.
Personal journeys. To religion. To blogging. To progressive politics. To wherever you are now.
How/if blogging affects one's career as a religious leader and vice versa.
What are some skillful means by which we can engage the "other?" In other words, we've done some talking about progressive bloggers and conservative ones. Our con has been planned as taking an oppositional stance to the (conservative) GodBlogCon. How do we bridge the gap? Is it possible? How do we build the kind of compassionate dialogue we need, or at least can we identify the common grounds/issues on which to start conversations?
Links between the progressive religious blogosphere and already existing progressive religious organizations, both new and old. Bloggers obviously need to keep their independence, but building up relationships with staffers at some of these activist organizations could be very fruitful for all involved.
Activism and politics
Getting larger, getting louder: Too often the blogosphere seems dominated by liturgical, theological, and political conservatives. How can we get more progressives blogging, and blogging in a way that makes a difference?
Religion and activism. How does faith drive political activism? The role of Jews and Christians in the American Civil Rights Movement, for example. Liberation theology in the campaign to end Apartheid in South Africa. Radical Islam as a force in world politics today. Hinduism and Gandhi's legacy. Buddhism and environmentalism.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen through a religious lens. It would be challenging, but also potentially tremendously valuable, to have an interfaith dialogue on this topic.
Jeffrey Stout has a thesis that our society is not secularizing in the way fundamentalists fear, but rather that it is asking those folks to deal with the plurality of religious beliefs present in our society. Fundamentalist fears are primarily fear of being displaced, of losing their privilege. How do we observe this dynamic in the blogosphere? Is the dominance of conservative religious bloggers a strategic move to "colonize" as it were another space? How do we bring this issue of plurality and "democratic secularization" (no dominance for one religious tradition) to the broader blogosphere?
Religion and Politics - Religion could be viewed simply as those values that bind a community together. By what values are we bound together?
Providing a pathway to progressivism - There are many people I am connected to that have a sense something is deeply wrong, but they have no idea how to "get there from here." Further, they may have ideas about progressive politics that are rooted in their training and upbringing, and they would describe progressive thought as "liberal" or wrong morally. How can we provide a path to these women and men?
In it for the long haul - It took a particular group of people nearly 40 years (36, to be precise) to gain the lock on power that they now possess. How long are we willing to work? Are we willing to take a series of small, (ironically) progressive steps over several decades to gain a governing coalition?
Blogging and the con itself
Technical blogging topics. How to increase site traffic. What's new in blogging. Comparative software. Extending your blog's capabilities. Etc.
How to get my voice out there, how to get more exposure, and most of all, how to get paid for some of it!
Roundtable discussions for current users based on specific technical blogging topics: e.g., roundtables relating to specific blogging software; a roundtable on CSS; a roundtable on podcasting; etc.
How can our blogs, and our network, enrich themselves/itself from good theoretical models about networked communities? Lots of neat and good research on network communities -- how can we use it to enhance our own network of progressive faith bloggers?
Finally - it might be helpful to schedule some working groups as to transform energy into action - plan future conferences, develop strategies for collective action, perhaps create an organization of progressive faith bloggers.
As the schedule stands now, we have five panel slots. It'll be tough to limit ourselves to only five of these ideas! If you have more ideas for panels, drop 'em as comments here, soon; we intend to hammer out a rough schedule by the end of this month.