Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Christian Blog Templates

I must say, I get a little disappointed in the Christian community sometimes.

For example, take Christian software; Bible programs, and whatnot. If you’ve ever bought any, then you probably know what I’m talking about; almost any Christian software I’ve ever bought has been horrendous. It’s usually poor quality, it doesn’t usually have a very good user interface, and documentation is normally non-existent. (One exception to this rule is a company called Laridian, which produces Bible software for various hand-held devices. Their software is excellent. If you count websites as “software,” then of course the Bible Gateway is another example of good Christian software. I’m sure there are other examples of good, quality Christian software too—but they’re in the minority.)

Another example of where the Christian community often disappoints me is in the crass commercialism. And I do mean crass. But I won’t go on about this too much, because I’ve already mentioned it (as an aside) in a previous post. (If you don’t believe me, just walk into any Christian bookstore in the country, and take a look around. How many “What Would Jesus Do?” pencils do you see for sale?)

Another example of where the Christian community sometimes disappoints me is in Christian music. The Christian music industry seems to be just as un-Christ-like as the secular music industry (which makes it more insidious). Some Christian bands—I won’t name any, and I hope they’re in the minority—make it quite clear that they’re only in it for the money, and anything else is incidental. Did you hear a song that you’d like to use in your morning worship? Or for your church choir? Or as part of your Christmas program? Well you ain’t getting it cheap.

I was disappointed in the Christian community again today. I had thought about changing the template of this blog, and I went around looking for ones that I could use. If you want to go looking for blog templates, there are a lot of very nice, high-quality templates that you can download and use for free. For example, some of the ones that I was looking at, from FinalSense—all of which are free—were:I like all of those templates. (Well… Colors might be too colourful for me. But I very much like its layout.) Unfortunately, some of them don’t really fit with the theme of the blog; I mean, what does a coffee cup or a keyboard have to do with a blog on the Bible, right? And then I had a brainstorm: Why not look for Christian blog templates? And I did. And then the disappointment set in, because most of the ones that I saw cost money. And most of which, I must stress, were of lower quality than the ones I saw from FinalSense, that are free.

So here we have the non-Christian community providing blog templates to other bloggers, for free, because on the Internet people have a spirit of sharing. Are there people selling blog templates? Of course! But there are also many sites offering free blog templates. (Do a quick search on Google, to see what I mean.) But do a search for Christian blog templates, and you won’t find a lot of free ones. (I didn’t spend a lot of time on this, but I only found one; and it was from a web site that sells them, and was just giving this one away as a preview.)

To be clear, it’s not the fact that people are selling Christian templates that bugs me, it’s the fact that there are so few people producing free ones. Are there not Christian web designers out there, that want to help out their fellow Christians?

This is especially striking based on what I wrote in my last post, from Deuteronomy 15:1–11:

When the Bible tells us that we’ll always have poor people, it’s not to make us lackadaisical about the situation; it’s to tell us to get ourselves in gear: We have work to do. There are people who are not as well off as we are, so, therefore, we need to help them.

If you substitute “don’t have any visual design skills” for “poor”—which might be a bit of a stretch, I don’t deny it—then you have to wonder why there are so few Christian blog templates that don’t cost money.

I should mention, I fully realize that this post might sound like sour grapes; “serna can’t find any free Christian templates, so he’s going on a tear about how horrible Christians are.” But that’s not it at all. (And I don’t think Christians are horrible, regardless of how much I lament this particular situation.) Frankly, I can use one of the templates from FinalSense, or from Blogger Templates, or from another site that also calls itself Blogger Templates, or from one of the other dozens of sites out there giving free templates. And I know CSS and HTML and XML well enough that I can customize the template, if necessary. (If I was really unhappy with my choices, I could create my own, but I don’t think I’d do it as well; my visual skills are lacking, even if my technical skills are good.) But that’s just me; what about the thousands of other Christians out there, who might want to start a blog, but don’t have any of these skills? Are they forced to use one of Blogger’s default templates, or buy a Christian one?

One final comment, and then I’ll shut up: a lot of the non-Christians providing blog templates are probably web designers, or other types of designers, who are basically creating these templates as their online portfolio. So maybe it’s not so much that they’re giving away their templates because of a “spirit of sharing,” but as a promotional tool—they can go to a job interview, and say, “look at these templates I made, and I can do the same for your web site.” On the other hand, regardless of their initial reasons for doing it, they are giving them away for free. Not only that, but for some of the templates I’ve used in the past, the designers have also provided tech support, for their templates; “if you can’t get it to work on your blog, try changing this line of code to this value.”

And again, I come back to: Why aren’t there more Christians doing this?
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