As should be fairly obvious if you are reading this (and have ever read a post at Spiritual Friendship before), we have dramatically altered the website design.
When Wesley and I created Spiritual Friendship in April of 2012, we weren’t really sure what we were doing. We’d been privately discussing a bunch of the ideas we’ve talked about here, and a number of our friends encouraged us to talk about them more publicly. At the time, we weren’t sure how much interest there was in our ideas. The reparative therapy/orientation change model that had been used by Exodus International still seemed to be more or less the default approach in orthodox Christian circles. So, with some trepidation, we decided to start a blog. Because we weren’t really sure where this was going, we just chose a default WordPress template, and started tentatively putting out posts.
Much to our surprise, Spiritual Friendship turned out to be much more popular than we had any right to expect. Several ex-gay leaders who were frustrated with the limits of reparative therapy and orientation change, or just interested in alternative approaches, started to dialogue with us about our ideas. Within a few months, First Things invited us to cross-post our writings to their First Thoughts blog. We’ve also been humbled by the comments and private messages we’ve received from a variety of people who tell us that our writings have had a positive impact on their Christian walk.
Given the unexpected success of this blog, and the community that has grown up around it, we wanted to make a number of changes to accommodate our growth. The first significant change was the addition of social media a few weeks ago: Facebook and Google+ pages, and a Twitter account.
Today, we unveiled a major redesign of the Spiritual Friendship site itself.
We were trying to accomplish several goals:
- The new design, we hope, just makes it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. The new drop down menus put a lot more content right at your fingertips than was possible in the old design. Also, the location of the drop down menu bar is hopefully more obvious than the location of the tabs in the old design.
- As Spiritual Friendship has grown, we want to try to make the volume of information more accessible. We’ve added a list of major areas of concern in the drop down menu under About. Currently, those menu items point to the most relevant post addressing each topic. Over the next few weeks, we will gradually create overview pages for each area that will provide a brief introduction to the topic, and direct the reader to posts that will offer a more in-depth discussion of each issue.
- In the last few weeks, we’ve been adding more bloggers to Spiritual Friendship, and we expect to add even more in the near future. As a result of this, we have tried to make it easier for you to find posts by particular authors, through the Contributors page and drop-down menu, and the list of contributors on the side bar.
- Many of you will know my strong feelings about faces. In the new design, we have tried to “put our faces” on Spiritual Friendship in a way that we hadn’t done before. We are putting the author’s photo, along with a brief bio, at the end of each post. This will help readers to keep track of who is writing what. We have also put authors’ photos and bios on the Contributors page.
- In addition, we have added the Facebook social plugin to the right-hand column, to help put faces to the community of people who read and follow Spiritual Friendship.
Over the next few weeks, we will be doing more to tweak the new design to make it (hopefully) even easier to use, and adapting the new look and feel of the Spiritual Friendship site to our social media accounts. We will also look to expand the ways we use social media.
If you have any comments or suggestions about the new design, ways to make our social media offerings more helpful, or general feedback on the Spiritual Friendship project, please let us know. We want to make this site as helpful as it can be to our readers and the community that has grown up around us.
Thanks again for reading, commenting, and otherwise participating in this project. It’s been great seeing this project develop, and we hope you’ll stick around to see where it goes in the years to come.
Ron Belgau is completing a PhD in Philosophy, and teaches medical ethics, philosophy of the human person, ethics, and philosophy of religion.