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Velveteen Rabbi in the Austin-American Statesman

One of the highlights of last weekend was spending a quiet hour with Joey Seiler, who writes for the Austin-American Statesman. He'd attended the "Ghost in the Machine: Spirituality Online" panel; our chat on Sunday was a rare oasis of quiet and substantive conversation in an otherwise pretty chaotic day.

Parts of that conversation are now in print, in today's Austin-American Statesman; for those of us who live a ways from Austin, fear not, the interview is also online.

There's a detail or two I might have corrected, given the chance (the Aleph rabbinic program isn't based in North Adams, e.g.) but that's a minor quibble. Otherwise it's a lovely piece. Here's a taste:

It seems like your blog works with that sort of desire, a form of outreach.

I aim at a wide range of conversations going about things I care about, the festival cycle and how we can invest them with meaning, discussions of the texts, that sort of thing. And the blog is a way for me to talk about those when, in my wonderful little small town, there may not be people interested in it.

So it's not simply outreach, but a wider reach?

I love my town, but it's a small town. On Shabbat services, there might be only 15 people, which is nice, but it's nice to reach outside the sphere. I also regard the blog as an educational tool. I often get more comments from non-Jewish readers than Jewish readers. I try to make it accessible and find parallels to what I know in other traditions.

It seems like the trend in faith-based blogs is that the audience is external instead of internal.

I suspect that the Internet makes it easier for people to look around spiritually. You might not be comfortable walking into five different churches to see what it's like, but you can easily visit five blogs to get a window into their worlds.

Read it here: Religion blogs get into spirit of Internet. Thanks for the good press, Joey!

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