I did a lot of writing this year. It really started late fall 2012 when I turned a corner with my Ph.D. dissertation. I finally figured a couple of key things out and then began to write the final draft in earnest. I wrote a lot of it Jan. – Mar. of 2013. That would be enough for some people (more sensible than me), but I decided to add daily blogging through the Gospels on top because I’m crazy like that.
Then I got an idea to write breath prayer reflections for Lent, so for a while I was banging out two posts per day and writing the dissertation. (I also preached weekly at Vineyard North in Wake Forest and taught courses at Meredith college in the spring and Wingate University in the fall, so 2013 saw a pretty dramatic jump in my content output.) Then there were the occasional posts for various reasons or no particular reason at all.
So I thought it would be good to look at which posts from all this seemed to resonate the most. Most of the Red Letter Year entries had a steady daily following, but these are posts that had significant views beyond the day they were immediately posted. This list only includes posts from 2013. I have several older posts that still get some hits.
1. On Women and Slaves: Red Letter Year 11/21. This was the most viewed post of the year, thanks to a nod from Rachel Held Evans on her blog. I almost didn’t post this one though. I had a shorter reflection written and uploaded. Then I woke up at 2am and sat up writing until 4 (or 4:30, I lose track). It all sort of spilled out of me, like it had been pent up for a while. It was so much longer than my goal for RLY (the focus should remain on the text) that I thought about deleting it or using it for something else. But I ran with it because it highlights the logic the religious leaders used to justify killing Jesus and tracks how that same bad ethic gets used in the church today, specifically with women leading in the church. Key line: “We can’t call something “biblical” that falls short of the highest goal the Bible sets for us. Slavery is not biblical. Restrictions from church leadership based on gender aren’t biblical either.”
2. Spiritual PTSD. In this post, I shared about my experience with military service members suffering with PTSD and the parallels I see between how they suffer and how people hurt by church/religious experiences suffer. I have done more reading and talked to more people since posting this (the post itself led to really good conversations and new friends). I am more convinced than ever that spiritual PTSD is real and is an area I need to give theological and pastoral attention to going forward. Key line: “I am so sorry the body of Christ has been so awful to you. I am so sorry that the instruments of healing have been used to cut, wound, and abuse you. I hope, I pray that you will experience the healing power of Jesus.”
3. faith bullies. Coming a week before, this now reads like a prelude to #2, but at the time I was just irked by something on Facebook. Someone was promoting an anti-evolution video (I could link to it but I refuse to dignify it) that said a lot of nasty things about Christians who accept evolution as true. I posted in my feed that it is okay for Christians to think evolution is true, that the two are not logically incompatible. And that sparked a tempest in a teapot. I got some nasty responses of my own, so I blogged about people of faith using classic bullying techniques. Key line: You can’t bully someone into faith. You should not be bullying people of faith into thinking what you think they should think. Such tactics are out of bounds for followers of Jesus.”
4. What to do about Raleigh not allowing hungry people to be fed. I posted this in the wake of Biscuitgate, where the City of Raleigh sent police officers to break up a dangerous ring of biscuit dealers, er, ministries giving out free Bojangles’ biscuits and coffee (the photo of the officer holding a free cup of said coffee while explaining the ban is priceless for its irony). A lot of my friends were upset and wondering what to do, so I gave them some advice taken straight from Dr. King. Key line: “You are probably wondering what you can do to help. There is a tried and true way to overcome such injustice.”
5. Leave Her Alone: Red Letter Year 11/22. Some of the popularity of this post can be explained by its appearance the day after #1, but I actually like this one better. Makes the same point stronger and more succinctly (two qualifies that usually go together). The idea of Mary anointing Jesus the way we anoint someone before sending them into ministry is powerful, as are the words Jesus has for those who seek to stop her. Key line: “The church needs to here again the rebuke of Jesus: “Leave her alone.” Her calling, her leadership, the anointings she receives and gives are great gifts of worship to our Lord. She must not be hindered from whatever the Spirit leads her to do for Jesus.”
6. Failure of Justice in Raleigh, NC. This post reflected my twice broken heart, broken once by public news, but broken before that on a personal level. I am friends with a dear family who just had their son sentenced to 8 years in prison for a barroom fight that resulted in an eye injury. Then I learned that a sheriff officer assigned to Wake County jail had lifted up and slammed a poor man to the hard prison floor twice, killing him. The officer was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Raleigh has an unjust judicial system and a press that largely looks the other way. Key line: “we have a judicial system that seems to have lost all sense of justice.”
7. Lent Heart Prayer introduction. Writing this series was one of my highlights in 2013. Even I thought this was too much to take on, but the thing got on my heart and would not get off. So I wrote it out. I started with this introduction and linked to it in each prayer, so I think most people who participated in the LHPs read this at some point. I am going to collect all 40 links onto one convenient page to make future use easier. Key line: “What we’re doing here is ”fasting” from a way of thinking/seeing ourselves and the world, replacing the negative input we are fed (and tell ourselves) with God’s way of thinking about us and seeing us.”
There you have it. My top 7 posts of 2013. I am going to take a short break from the blog to figure out what’s next. Thanks so much for reading this year and for the comments, likes, and encouragement. It means a lot to me.
Blessings on 2014 for all of us!