For some months now, I’ve not been nearly as active here as I once was. There are numerous reasons for this. For a long time, I’ve been trying to reassess my priorities and core aim with the site. Was I really wanting to put the bulk of me energy into a regular commentary on the daily news cycle, which in practice is what I had been doing, or a more permanently useful storehouse of resources for LGBT Catholics and other Christians, as I originally set out to do?
Then from mid 2014, health issues started to interfere. I suddenly started to experience sharp abdominal pains. Initially diagnosed as a diverticulitis (a bowel problem), tests later showed the presence of a massive GIST – a rare form of cancer. There followed a series of frequent hospital visits (initially once or twice a week) for further tests, consultations, and in time treatment. In addition, I spent a great deal of time researching the condition, reading the stories of other people with GIST in an on-line support group – and communicating the news and progress to family and friends. This was leaving me with significantly less time than previously, to keep the site going.
Then came a technical crisis. Out of the blue, I found that the site was simply no longer appearing. I could not even access the admin dashboard to explore and troubleshoot. Investigating with my hosting company, we were able to retrieve some of the historic posts from a few years back, but I was still unable to access the dashboard. As an emergency measure, I set up this site as an alternative URL, and have been able to manually copy much of the original material (but not all) from other sources, where it had been cross-posted. By now, not only had I less time than before to be writing new material for the site, but the workload had increased: in addition to writing new material, there was the challenge of retrieving that which had gone missing, and fixing the core technical problem.
Meanwhile, as the cancer treatment progressed, family matters were becoming pressing. It’s been rather too long since I’ve visited family in South Africa, so had promised to do so for either January or Easter – but medical advice was not to do so without sound travel insurance, and with my GIST, the cost would have been prohibitive. My Johannesburg daughter Barbara then came up with a superb alternative plan. As a British citizen, my medical expenses are covered by the NHS in Europe – and in Switzerland, where my other daughter (Robynn) now lives. So Barbara arranged for her family to meet up with Robynn in Switzerland where I would join them – and then travel across the Alps to Italy, where they had booked a large villa on the shore of Lake Garda for a week. The prospect was enticing – and so for several weeks I had the distraction of anticipating the holiday, planning for it, and researching Italian recipes and ingredients for what turned to be in the end, an absolutely magical fortnight with family.
A further distraction, was the UK general election. I’ve always been an election nut, be they S African, American, or British. As the campaign developed, it increasingly seemed to me that the issues of sexual politics and the Church rather paled into insignificance, against the wider context of the broader social politics, inequality, and horror of the “other” as shown in some British hostility to immigrants. Following these campaign issues, and (in far too much detail) the daily opinion polls and commentary on them, effectively kept me even further away from this site.
Now, all of that is behind me. The holiday is sadly behind me, the election is thankfully over (albeit with a depressing outcome), tomorrow I have an important medical appointment when I will have greater clarity on the effectiveness of the treatment, so far.
I’m rested and relaxed, have a clearer sense of my priorities and what I aim to achieve here – and will once again have some time to get down to the continuing business of Queering the Church – and also know what I want to do about resolving the technical problems. The one problem for the immediate future is that over the next few weeks I will have an unusually heavy work load, juggling commitments for three part – time jobs. Thereafter, full normal service will be resumed, but with greater focus on building a useful resource, rather than responding to the news cycle.
In the meantime, I will develop one other decision I have taken about this blog – to include much more that is strictly personal to me, and not necessarily anything to do with either sexuality, or religion. That will include more on my health journey and information about the GIST condition, and coming up soon – some fun reports and pictures from the magical family holiday.