Technically, this blog post has a question-and-answer format, but it’s a break from the usual attempt to pose a question that someone might have about the Christian faith and propose an answer. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to comment on the state of this blog.
The gap of almost two years since the last post has several reasons behind it. First, it was getting harder to develop new ideas for posts.
Various new questions I would come across looked, upon examination, to be minor variations on old ones.
Second, the format I had developed of pairing a text post with an interactive video dialogue was too labor intensive to permit frequent posting; I really had to find a block of time where I could approach the challenge with some energy.
Third, my job responsibilities (as a partner in a small business, I wear many hats) were increasing rapidly as my business grew, and this project was one of many areas of life that suffered.
Fourth, the software I had used to make the videos (Xtranormal State) stopped working when the publisher went out of business.
Fifth, my feedback from the project has been discouraging. The traffic part has been fine – about 15,000 blog post views and 8,000 video views since inception – I don’t know what I should have expected, but this doesn’t sound bad. In terms of those who commented though, it’s a very small fraction of the viewers and overwhelmingly negative. I did a rough, quick count (across YouTube and the blog) of the comments received and (paraphrasing content and tone very, very loosely) find a breakdown of:
14 “you’re completely wrong and an idiot for disagreeing with me” (appearing to come from the atheist side)
6 “you’re completely wrong and damned for disagreeing with me” (appearing to come from the fundamentalist side)
6 “I like/agree with this”
3 *unintelligible comment from someone either goofing around or slipping through the spam filter*
1 “I disagree, but politely/respectfully”
1 “thanks, this helped me”
0 “this changed my life”
23,000 views, 31 responses, only one person helped, no transformation. It does not appear to be a good return on the man-hours I put into it. I’ll admit had higher hopes than this at the outset.
I’m not sure what I expected. To look on the bright side, it’s likely that not everyone who might have been helped has responded. Even Jesus seems to have had a poor batting average in terms of receiving thanks for much greater works than mine, as Luke described here. I myself am guilty of this – on numerous occasions in my work (usually around writing code), I’ve Googled an error message or other stumbling block, found very helpful comments someone who took the time to share his/her expertise on some online forum, and then merrily gone about my day, without bothering to even post the briefest of thank-yous. (Note to self: do a better job in 2015.)
Nonetheless, the whole experience has been discouraging thus far. I had hoped to provide genuine help and comfort to people interested in these matters but struggling with particular points, by sharing the insights I’ve had (or heard, or read) over the years. I wanted to see results, because the process of crafting these blog posts itself was not a great deal of fun, and consumed time that could have been killed productively or enjoyably some other way.
If you look back at the prior posts, from 2010-2013, you’ll see an effort to address many of the major objections to Christian belief that I’ve encountered over the years. If I was successful, what should have emerged from those posts was not just a defensive response to various challenges, but a positive statement of faith as well, a description of what I do and don’t believe, along with whys and why nots, with plenty of room for speculations and maybes too.
Looking back, I don’t feel I quite got there. Many of the posts have numerous weaknesses that jump out at me on a re-reading, revealing that even during the years I posted a lot, the blog never really got the best of my energies. To date, I’ve never been pleased enough with it to invite friends to read it, or even put my full name to it. I keep hoping it will get there in the future. On a few occasions I’ve edited the old posts to add points that should have been made (or vice versa). The posts, however, are so interlinked with one another that I’ve often felt the best course of action was to compile it all into book form, with some organized narrative.
What I really want to do is take CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity (the book that started a transformation in me, and in many of its other readers), update it to a 21st century American context, make a few changes as regards to areas where Lewis and I disagree, add a few things that I think would be particularly helpful to an audience being bombarded with neuroscience (especially relating to the argument from consciousness), and maybe tie it into my personal story and areas of expertise, to give it added effect.
Sounds simple enough, but after a couple of aborted attempts to do this, I have an appreciation for how difficult that would be. Francis Collins, someone I think of as a kindred spirit, went down a somewhat similar path in The Language of God, a solid work but one that only reinforced my perception that good ideas don’t change hearts and minds on their own; it takes a rare talent to preach successfully to the deepest corners of the modern mind and heart. Few people have it and I am probably not one of them.
So where to go from here? I think the best approach is to make shorter, more frequent posts, and to relax my sense of perfectionism around the process (esp. the idea that each post has to have a YouTube video with it). I will also lower my expectations, and look at the blog not as a means for changing the world but as a means for recording my own thoughts, passing something of me on to my children, and expressing a creative impulse. My memory (sadly) is not what it used to be, I sense I’ve had dozens of small insights worth posting over the past couple years that never rose to the level of a new post under my old way of thinking, and are now lost not only to the world but to me. Going forward, I’m going to seize the moment, take a couple of minutes to dash out a post, and see what happens.
If it helps anyone along the way, that’s great (and please do remember, I could use the encouragement). Maybe it will lead to something great in the future, or catch the eye of someone like-minded with whom I can collaborate. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open instead of trying to force opportunity to knock. (I do happen to be good at making money, and am always looking for good projects to support.) Who knows, maybe that book I dream of writing will take shape after all. And maybe along the way I’ll learn a little something about trusting God and listening for my calling.