A while ago I submitted an entry to a short fiction competition. And by short, I mean very short… the length of a tweet, to be precise.
The competition was run by The Fiction Shelf, and my entry was long-listed for their inaugural competition. Unfortunately, they released the long-list and short-list on the same day which somewhat ruined the suspense. But, very nice to get the recognition.
You can see the full short- and long-lists here (there are only 11 entries in total, so it will take you all of a very entertaining 5 minutes to read them…).
Just to get the ball rolling I thought I’d post the “About Me & My Blog” section so my page didn’t look so dead. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of this blogging thing soon!
I’m Chris, a twenty-something year-old Religious Studies student in my final year of undergraduate study at the University of Edinburgh. I originally come from Northern Ireland (Newtownabbey to be precise) but moved pretty much totally over to Edinburgh in 2004 when I came to study Physics… so you could say I don’t really fit into a box when it comes to the arts/science divide. I am currently writing my undergraduate dissertation on the contemporary construction of atheist identity in the anglophone world, and am hoping to pursue postgraduate study if I manage to get funding applications in on time.
I decided to start this blog for a few reasons:
1. Because throughout my study and discussing with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I have realised that a lot of people don’t know very much about religion, or about any religion other than a very vague caricature of Christianity. I am not claiming to know “a lot” about religion(s), or to be able to impart knowledge in any sort of coherent manner, but I just thought that a forum where a “normal” person could offer some insight in the world’s religious faiths, and promote some discussion, that this would not be a bad thing.
2. Because I have recently discovered Twitter… and through following a few interesting individuals (such as @wilw, @pzmyers) and groups (such as @denyreligion) I have followed links to blogs and thoroughly enjoyed the views, news and debate presented there, and thought “I could do that to”
3. The “more” is important! I don’t want this to be a boring, intellectual exercise. I do want this to be a place where religion can be discussed… and I am more than happy to indulge rational debate and/or religious/anti-religious crusades. But I also want it to be a place where I can post interesting articles, or quotations that I find in other areas, or where I can just stick something random or humourous that happened to come my way/cross my mind.
I’m sure I will think of more reasons, and will add them here in due course.
Before I close on this about me section, I guess it would help if you all knew where I was coming from religion-wise. I am personally not religious. I was brought up in a Christian family, and decided to openly become a Christian when I was 13, and after a few years of being quite forthright in my Christianity I came to the realisation that the only reason I believed what I did was because I was born into and brought up in my particular family. Since then I have loosely been using the label “agnostic” but I think this is rather misleading: I don’t really feel that I am particularly “looking” for religion/God; and I am swayed by the arguments of Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett etc. that whilst in general a “live and let live” approach is ideal, this is a very rose-tinted view of the world because, let’s face it, religion does have a way of not living out that maxim. All this being said I am definitely not comfortable with the label “atheist”… maybe this is a failing on my part, but I am open to suggestions.
I do, however, still have MANY ties to Christianity: I receive a choral scholarship, which means that I sing in a church on Sundays and receive payment for it; my father has recently been ordained as a non-stipendary minister in the Church of Ireland, and has been teaching Religious Education alongside his main French and German for as long as I can remember; my mother has been a church organist at many different churches, was head of Religious Education at a Primary School and has been a high-ranking member in a Christian women’s organisation; through other choirs I have sung in Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches and cathedrals around Edinburgh and beyond.
So yes… when it comes to religion I am a little bit messed up, and it is probably because of all these ties that I am unlikely to ever jump into the atheist boat… although I have just recently joined the Edinburgh University Humanist Society, so we’ll see where that takes me!
Outside of studying, I live with my girlfriend Lindsey, do a lot of part-time work for the University, and have a keen interest in singing (as you can probably tell) and in performing – in plays, musicals, operettas and opera. I watch an awful lot of DVDs, which mostly include a lot of Star Trek and anything by Joss Whedon, have a ludicrously eclectic taste in music, enjoy playing poker and squash, reading anything and everything in general, and spend an inordinate amount of time in the pub… when money allows!
Please comment, and let me know how you find the blog…
Ta ta for now,