by John Ellis
At the end of every year on my old blog, I would list the ten most read articles for that year. At the time, besides my blog, I had an actual writing gig, for which I was paid. Self-promotion goes hand-in-hand with seeking out writing gigs, and I was constantly looking for other writing opportunities, submitting pitches, and chasing a book deal. For better or worse (for worse), the publishing industry is now largely driven by social media. As in, what social media reach does this *writer* bring to the table? Pursuing readers for my blog and new followers on my social media accounts was paramount to furthering my writing career, and most everyone, including SEO, loves a good end-of-the-year list.
Why have I decided to resurrect the top-ten list for this blog? I’m not sure. The views on this blog are a fraction of what they were for my old blog, and there’s no reason to promote this blog nor myself. I mean, I’m no longer a professional writer and I’m not chasing writing gigs nor a book deal. Boredom, maybe? I’m off work this week, spending the bulk of my time working on a Sunday school lesson. Writing something I “have” to write always makes me want to write something else. That’s probably the best answer: By writing this, I’m stalling from writing what I should be writing. Regardless the reason, below are the ten most read articles on this blog this past year. Note: three of the articles were not written this year.
(Click on the title to read the article)
10. “Yes, You Should Deconstruct Your Faith”
Funny story: after a conversation about this topic with my pastor, I emailed him this article. He then put a link to it in our church’s e-news, telling me after the fact. I had to scramble and make some edits because I had taken some unnecessary (and likely uncharitable) potshots in it at some hobby horses of mine. While writing it, I assumed the few friends who pay attention to what I write would be the only readers. I didn’t write it expecting most of my church family to read it. I think I made the edits before church members began clicking on it. At least, I hope so. It was a good reminder that I should always speak with charity because it’s the right thing to do and I never know who may read or hear me.
9. “‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Further Validates My Rejection of Evangelicalism”
As a general rule, I hate coming up with titles for my articles. I’m no good at it. If I could retitle this one, I would. A better title would be, “‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Is Antithetical to Kingdom Ethics”.
8. “Yes, I Am a Woke Christian. No, I Have Not Drifted Into Theological Compromise”
From time to time, I write something that I wish would have a larger audience. This is one of those articles. It’s an important discussion that has been hijacked by the worst actors in the debate. When we hear the word “woke”, most of us are responding to strawman (or worse) versions of it. I’d like to believe my article adds needed light to a conversation characterized by mostly unedifying heat.
7. “Up Next At Bob Jones University: Casting Crowns Playing the FMA Stage?”
If I were chasing clicks, I would put Bob Jones University in the title of everything I write.
6. “Does Divorce and Remarriage Disqualify a Man From Being Pastor?”
It doesn’t surprise me that this article I wrote over three years ago still finds readers. I pray that it’s helped bring some clarity to some.
My favorite article of the year. Possibly my favorite article I’ve ever written.
4. “How to Convince an Atheist God Exists”
I mean, the title draws readers for an obvious reason. Nobody leaves comments, but I can only assume that most of the people who click on this article are left disappointed with what they find. Good. Hopefully, I’ve challenged some bad apologetic assumptions and made some people think.
3. “A Godless Fundamentalist, Chapter 8: The Bill Rice Ranch”
Some of my new readers who didn’t read my old blog may be unaware that I came close to getting a book deal for my memoir, A Godless Fundamentalist. I didn’t, obviously, and so I posted the rewritten series on this blog (I had originally written it years ago for my previous blog but then rewrote parts of it under the direction of an acquisitions editor from the publishing house). For some reason, chapter 8 is far and away the most read chapter of the series. Most of the chapters are lucky if they get clicked on even once a month. Not this one. It consistently draws clicks every month. The only reason for why that is that I can think of is that when people Google “Bill Rice Ranch” this article pops up because there’s not a lot of stuff on the internet about the camp. I don’t know. Anybody got a better theory?
2. “The Gospel Coalition Debates Gun Control”
This is the second shortest article and my least favorite article on the list. I didn’t put a lot of thought into writing it (I was really just trying to make a few friends aware of the video debate). But TGC posted a link to this article on their website, so it got far more views than I expected. If I had known that out of all things I’ve ever written, this was going to be the only one to be posted on TGC, I would’ve added a little more substance to it. Sadly, not long after I wrote this one, I wrote a fairly in-depth article about Kingdom ethics and the Second Amendment that garnered less than 10% of the views of this article (yes, I’m a little bitter).
1. “The (Possible) Slow, Strange Suicide of Bob Jones University”
The historian John Fea included a link to this article in his newsletter. This is why this article was the most read article of 2022 (not to mention that articles about BJU tend to attract more readers than other articles). I am thankful that the “possible” (my prediction) did not become reality and that my professor friends at BJU still have their jobs and the university is continuing its much-needed transition out of fundamentalism.
Tomorrow, I’m going to post the top-ten list of articles that I wish more people had read. Unless I get my heart right and start working on my Sunday school lesson.