Well, down the toilet with my original plan for this first (um, second) post. I had planned to write a fascinating and comprehensive tale, outlining my plans for this blog, but then I realized that I was full of crap. I only have the vaguest ideas about where I'd like this blog to go, and even if I had a brilliant, all-encompassing plan, I suspect that planning a blog is kind of like planning a garden, or a big software project: you can make lots of rules up front, but eventually you just have to sit down, start working, and guide the project as it progresses.
So instead of beginning with a big, grand idea, I'll start with the semantic pain in the butt that is the word "liberal".
"Liberal" is one of those words that is absolutely useless out of context. When I was about five years old, my teacher at school tried to teach us about right and left. For some reason, this concept infuriated me. I couldn't understand why the chalkboard was right and the window was left, and then when I turned around, the chalkboard was LEFT, and the window was RIGHT! It didn't make any sense. If the chalkboard was right, it should always be right! And if the window was left, well darn it, it should always be left! Why should its leftness or rightness depend on me?
I think lots of people have the same problem with the words "conservative" and "liberal". Put simply, a liberal is someone who wants to change the status quo, and a conservative is someone who wants to protect it, but someone's liberality is always relative to someone else's liberality, usually yours. So while my opinions on most social issues are fairly liberal compared to those of my friends, there's always going to be that radical feminist who makes me look like Jerry Falwell.
Another problem is that people are complicated, and so is the world. There's more than one thing to be liberal about. Our good buddy and vice president Dick Cheney may be rabidly conservative about defense spending, but surprisingly liberal about gay rights. So you really have to have an idea about someone's overall track record to call them a "political conservative" or a "social liberal". The political compass tries to solve this problem for political issues, but 2 axes may not be enough.
So if liberal is such a loaded word, why did I name this blog LiberalJesus?
To be honest, partly because I wanted a simple name. BlogAboutLiberalPoliticsAndChristianity is kind of a pain to remember, and not very compelling. And it's partly because I want to draw the attention (the ire, even) of the conservative Christians in the blogosphere. Though they may be wacky, you can count on them to post.
But it's also because I think Jesus was a liberal. Read the gospels: in general, he's interested in the poor and the marginalized. He's down on the status quo and up on changing things for the better. And that's how I'd like to be.
Darn liberal me.