This blog was largely in hiatus through October, which was for a number of reasons. One was simply that I was very busy with Udo Schuklenk putting the finishing touches on the manuscript of our next book, 50 Great Myths About Atheism. This can be seen as, in a way, a sequel to our co-edited volume 50 Voices of Disbelief.
Since we submitted the manuscript in mid-October, there's been a flurry of activity, as we plot and plan with each other and our commissioning editor at Wiley-Blackwell. There will be more news, no doubt, as the book goes through the editing/publishing process, but at this stage I can just say that we're very excited about it, and we're getting great feedback from the publisher. As the title might suggest, we'll be examining a wide range of myths, misconceptions, slanders, and half-truths about atheism and atheists. Amongst it, we'll also have quite a bit to say about the rise of modern atheism and why we think atheism is the most reasonable response to the God question.
I also have a deadline looming for another book, Humanity Enhanced, which will be published by MIT Press. This is involving a lot of work, and it is intensifying as that deadline approaches.
Some people may think that I'm a glutton for punishment, but I also stepped up during October to become the new chair of the board of a significant local arts body, here in Newcastle, Australia, the Hunter Writers' Centre. This immediately involved me (in a modest way) with the lead-up to the Centre's annual flagship event, the award night for the prestigious (and even somewhat lucrative) Newcastle Poetry Prize. The NPP is one of the most important annual literary awards in Australia. And there's the prospect of even more news relating to literature in Newcastle. That will have to wait for now, but I'm very pleased to find myself more closely involved in the cultural life of this beautiful city where I grew up, and to which I returned from Melbourne three years ago.
In the background of my own life, though, there are ongoing and worrying health issues in my family (not directly involving me!). That's placed some demands on my energy level just lately ... well, since about June.
While all this has been happening, I've been somewhat neglecting this poor blog and even wondering about its future. However, I do still think that it has a future as my personal blog, even if my lengthier and more philosophical pieces (particularly those where I feel I am writing for professional philosophers) are more likely to appear elsewhere, such as at Talking Philosophy.
Okay, so I've decided that the place needs a facelift. One thing I've been thinking of doing for some time is changing its title from "Metamagician and the Hellfire Club" to simply "The Hellfire Club". When I started blogging over six years ago, the "Metamagician" part made some sense in relation to how I saw the blog evolving. However, it has little actual relevance to the blog as it exists today - and merely makes the name more esoteric and difficult.
From now on, just plain "The Hellfire Club" it is. If the blog ever migrates elsewhere, which I do contemplate from time to time, that's the name it will continue under. The sort-of-new name, "The Hellfire Club", signals not just a certain anti-religious aspect - though I reiterate that this has never been an atheist blog more than a lot of other things - but also a certain alienation from much conventional moral and similar wisdom, which has been subjected to a running critique. That element will continue ... and, indeed, it may become more important.
Would people who have this blog listed on their blog rolls, or anything similar, please adjust accordingly.
The rest of the facelift is a work in progress, and you may see more tinkering over the next few days. But I was getting a bit bored with the look of it as it was. Time for something new!