Well, it’s that time of year again. All across print magazines and the Internet we’re bound to see everyone’s take on the top 10 events or news items of the year. I enjoy this time of year because it gives us a glimpse into the providence of God in history and very often gives us cause for further reflection or celebration.
Not long ago, one of the year-end elves (Matt) at TGC sent me a list of the ten most read posts at Pure Church. This is an occasion for thanking those of you who read the blog in 2013. There are a lot of great bloggers in the world today posting very worthwhile stuff. That you made it to this little blog and spent some time on even a single post is an encouragement and a kindness to me. Thank you and may the Lord bless you.
Well, without further ado, here are the top ten most-read posts from 2013 followed by a few observations.
9. “A Round Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble” (11,000)
8. “Only Once in About 30 Days” (11,000)
7. “Ja Rule Exposes My Sinful Heart” (12,000)
4. “Why Respond Publicly to Douglas Wilson’s Black and Tan?” (17,000)
3. “Why You Should Care about the Strange Fire Discussion” (27,000)
2. “5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church” (32,000)
As I skim this list, a couple things seem apparent to me.
First, as was the case last year, the posts garnering the most traffic were usually posts involving some controversy. A good 6-7 posts either addressed or stimulated some Internet back-and-forth. A couple others–how to leave a church well–often involve conflict at some level. People continue to be interested in controversy, and the blogs perhaps stimulate their fair share of it. This one has been no exception in 2013, though the overwhelming majority of my posts had nothing to do with conflict.
Second, I’m a bit naive when it comes to what’s controversial. That was proven to me by the most read post of 2013, a post I wrote without much thought about potential fall-out. I set out to retell a story of a policy think-tank meeting and where I thought the rhetorical political sparring over same-sex marriage should go. I also didn’t think my ruminations in the wake of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial were all that flammable. Boy was I wrong in both cases! I spent a lot of time replying to some thoughtful and some not-so-thoughtful replies to those post. I learned a lot of things–one of which is that Orwell was right. The first duty of intelligent men and women is to state the obvious. But, Orwell missed something. We no longer agree on what is obvious (if we ever did), and not recognizing that is very naive. I’m learning I can’t be so naive any more.
Third, discussions of “race” and racism are often long, convoluted, heady, emotional and tiresome affairs. There was a lot of “racial” stories in the news and blogosphere. Even the stories that some people insisted “were not racial” couldn’t help descending into the quagmire of racial narratives and conflict. All I can say is that the country still hurts. Well, there’s one more thing I can say: For all our talk about the gospel healing these wounds, we’re either applying that balm sparingly or it heals very slowly. And, yet, sometimes we see fruit.
Fourth, just as last year, the things I care most about and write about aren’t necessarily the things that catch the most attention. I’m glad to see the story of my evangelism failures made the list, as did the post on leaving your local church in a healthy way. Evangelism is one of the things I wanted to grow in this year and I simply love the local church–warts and all. But by and large, the posts most read were important but not necessarily where my heart lies. Which I think means if you’re introduced to this blog via these posts or only read these posts you wouldn’t really know me or what makes me tick. I could sense that in some of the comments threads on some of these posts. People wrote as if that post summed me up, and I felt significantly misunderstood or misrepresented. That experience has taught me to be even more careful in my comments on other blogs. There’s always a writer who is more complex than the post ever represents and probably few posts that ever sum a person up.
Finally, I’m thankful you all would read the blog and engage in so much discussion. In fact, these posts remind me of what perhaps is my favorite part of blogging-interacting with the comments when they come. I’m grateful for the many who leave thoughtful questions, passionate push-backs, and words of affirmation. I’m taught a lot about thinking, writing, responding, truth, and grace in these exchanges. Thanks to all who read and I pray the Lord makes His face to shine upon you each moment of 2013, should He tarry