The other day was the second anniversary of my foray into blogging, and what a long, strange trip it’s been. I haven’t proven to be the most consistent blogger on the Web, or the one with the biggest following, or the smartest, or the funniest, or the most talented, or the best-loved, but I’m certainly…one of them?
But one thing I am sure of is that starting this blog was a good call. Some of the things that have happened since I began it:
- I’ve been published by Cracked a couple of times;
- My work has appeared in Reader’s Digest;
- I’ve scored a book deal;
- I’ve been made a weekly columnist at Christ and Pop Culture;
- I’ve almost finished a novel (which is more of a distraction from blogging than anything, but whatever).
I thought that for this august occasion (which, ironically, is a June occasion), it might be fun to run down my blog’s top 10 posts, along with some of my commentary on them. Unless it’s not fun, in which case, I’m sorry.
My Top 10 Posts of All Time…OF ALL TIME!!!
10. The real reason I won’t be buying a videogame console this week.
I’m both surprised and pleased to see this one crack the top 10. Surprised because the Internet usually doesn’t care about me unless I’m being really sarcastic about religion, and pleased because this is the sort of thing I really want to write — that is, high thinking about low culture. This is what finding yourself in the (lazy, entitled, etc.) Millennial Generation means: sorting through mountains and mountains of the culture getting thrown your way — in all its forms — and trying to make sense of it on a cosmic level. For us, there is no high culture or low culture — just the sparkling ruins of human ideas.
Also, Xbox One sucks. Just sayin’.
9. Toward a Progressive Pro-Life Ethic
Another one I’m pleased to see here. I don’t like writing about politics all that much, and I don’t think I have a lot to add to the political conversation, but I think abortion is certainly something we could all stand to think more clearly about. “Pro-life” and “pro-choice” have become angry cultural identifiers more than anything — we’re drawing lines in the sand while human lives are washing away in the tide. I’m glad to see my “third way” approach got a bit of attention.
8. Gun Nuts and Abortion Nuts are Exactly the Same (and if this post doesn’t offend absolutely everyone, I should just give up)
Okay, now this one I’m a little embarrassed of.
A remnant from my early angry-clueless-blogger days, this one was an attempt to get some hits with a clickbait title, and it mostly worked. I acknowledged — in the title, even! — that I was mainly trolling, but in retrospect I probably should have been more diplomatic than I was. Still, while I regret the hasty way I pushed this one out, I stand by the substance of it. If you think the best way to ensure the quality of your own life is through someone else’s potential death…you don’t even understand the question.
7. In the Spirit of Aronofsky’s Pi, Here’s a Mathematical Proof that Noah Would Have Pissed Everyone Off, No Matter What
Man, remember a few months ago when there was a movie called Noah in theaters and literally everyone was pissed off about it for some reason? No? Me neither.
Since posting this, I’ve actually seen Noah, and I actually loved every minute of it. But the thing is, to enjoy the film, you have to be open to the possibility that there are things about God you might not understand. You have to be open to the possibility that there might be a moral standard more authoritative than your own. You have to be open to the possibility that you might deserve the same eternal damnation you wish upon others. And there’s no question that that sort of possibility makes people uncomfortable, especially if they’re Christians. Go fig.
6. I’m orthodox, not conservative.
This was my site’s first significant hit, and its success came out of nowhere for me. The day I posted it, I was sitting in a teaching workshop and my phone started blowing up with emails from WordPress about all the hits I was getting. I probably should have put it on silent.
This piece has become something of a manifesto for me, though — the more I dive into Scripture, the less faith I have in the deistic, Enlightment-era ideals that the U.S. was built on. Theological conservatism in no sense has to lead to political “Conservatism” (in the weird, American sense of the word), because each is a set of answers to two very different questions: “What is truth?” in the first case, and “What ought we to do?” in the second. If we really want to follow Scripture in our politics, we need to find a king who rules by divine right. (It’s on my to-do list.)
5. Some brief thoughts on the failure of the Tea Party.
Man, again with the politics. Maybe I should just write about politics, all the time?
I’m guessing this one was successful mainly because it’s short and it was well-timed. I posted it just as the Tea Party-sponsored government shutdown was folding like a house of cards, and my message of “If you want to govern, try actually governing” apparently resonated with…somebody? Remember when politics was about getting stuff done instead of trying to force people we’ve never met to live their lives according to our own naïve ideals? Yeah, me neither.
4. Modesty: Go Ahead and Get Naked, or Better Yet, Don’t
I’m surprised to see this one so high on the list, since it’s badly in need of an editor, but I’m glad it found its audience. Evangelicalism (a subculture I’ll identify with occasionally, when it’s convenient for me) has a very uncomfortable relationship with sexuality, and we need to get over that and address it directly. If we could uncouple our concept of modesty from sexuality, that would be a huge step in the right direction.
I feel like there’s something I need to clarify, though: when I say “I wear boardshorts and compression shirts to go swimming,” I’m absolutely not saying “All men ought to wear boardshorts and compression shirts to go swimming.” The very nature of modesty requires it to be a personal discipline. Quietness of spirit is worse than meaningless when it’s imposed from the top down, and Christian discipline means nothing without Christian freedom — which is what I meant to convey with that enigmatic title.
3. Drawing dicks on the walls.
Mostly an apology for #8 above, this one turned out to have some serious legs. I was confused by that at first, since most of the humor-focused pieces I write end up sinking like stones — but then I realized that it’s the number-one hit for a Google Image search for “troll face” in eastern Europe. Of the 1,000-or-so hits this one has gotten, probably about 10 of them were from people who actually read it. If you’d like to be the 11th person to read it, be my guest.
2. Hey Guys, I’m a Young Person and I Have Opinions (Rachel Held Evans, Millennials, Etc.)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from blogging, it’s that the best way to get attention is to go after bloggers who are more popular than I am (see #1 below). And while I have no aspiration to become Yet Another Vaguely Evangelical Blogger Who Argues With Other Vaguely Evangelical Bloggers, I do think this is one of the better things I’ve written. The phenomenon of young people wandering around looking for Jesus in all the wrong places is nothing new, but Christ built a Church, and we ought to have faith in his handiwork. That doesn’t mean we have to support everything the Church does (God forbid!), but it does mean we should look for Jesus where he said he’d be.
1. A Break-up Letter to Matt Walsh
I still have no idea what happened with this one.
I wrote it in a couple of hours on a Saturday morning, looked it over, and said to myself, “Eh, it’s kinda stupid, but I might as well put it out there and see what happens.” Then I took my baby to the children’s museum, and returned three hours later to find that it had already become the most-read and most-shared post on my site — by a huge margin (thousands and thousands of readers). I even got shout-outs from Stuff Christian Culture Likes and Freshly Pressed.
I’m thinking there are three main reasons this one was so successful: (1) It delivers exactly what the title promises; (2) It’s short and easy to read; (3) It goes after someone a lot of people hate.
I still don’t think it was that great of a piece. I’m actually a bigger fan of my follow-up post, which didn’t even come close to duplicating its popularity, so…there you go.
And Here are My 5 Least Popular, Because, Why Not?
5. Grood Housekeeping: Three Things I’ve Learned as a Man-Housewife
This was a fairly recent post, so I remain confident that it will eventually find its audience. I understand why people would be reluctant to read it, since “Mr. Mom”-type humor is about as hacky as it gets, but I really did make an effort to say something unique and interesting here.
I failed, but can you really hold that against me?
4. Radio, Rats, B.F. Skinner (Pandora): a descent into madness
Wait, you mean there’s not a huge audience out there for weird, stream-of-consciousness prose-poetry about how streaming media numbs you to art, punctuated by pictures of filthy rodents? Who knew?
Besides, like, everyone, I mean.
3. Why “Traditional” Music is Actually Contemporary
I wrote this waaaaaaaay back in the day, before I had officially “gone public” with the blog, so I’m not terribly surprised to see that it never really found an audience. I’m also on the fence as to whether I even still agree with much of what I said here. I actually get more and more traditional in my liturgical preferences, the more I think about it — but if you really want to be traditional in your worship, you should get rid of all your instruments and only sing in chant. I doubt that would go over well with my congregation.
I still think pipe organs are overrated.
2. If You Can’t Be Female, at Least Be a Celebrity
This one deserves to be here. It was a convoluted attempt to connect the dots between abortion, Ross Douthat, some random PCUSA pastor, Futurama, and Chris Brown, and it never really gelled into anything substantial. It probably also didn’t help that the title made absolutely no sense, or that I posted it the night of July 4th, when everybody but me was out blowing stuff up.
1. Office Space in Universe 25
The exact same problems as the two above: trying to connect too many ideas, giving people no clue of what to expect with the title, publishing it without publicizing it. My basic thesis was that creatures are created to work, and you see that yearning both in Mike Judge comedies and sadistic Cold War-era experiments on mice, but I have no idea whether that actually came through. There’s also a bit of starry-eyed worship of Cracked and some egotistical preening on my part. Frankly, this one deserved to stay buried under all those mouse corpses.
One thought on “Prebylutheranism 2nd Anniversary Spectacular! (My Top 10 Posts Ever)”
Ah, I liked Office Space in Universe 25!
Also, you loved *every* minute of Noah? Even the terrible opening scene? Even the tedious and unnecessary scenes with Tubal-Cain and Percy Jackson on the Ark? Even… Okay, those were the only two bad parts of the film. The rest was fantastic. Still, those were two really bad parts.