Ray’s pastoral sensibilities and daily high-quality blog content make him one of my favorites. I’m so glad that he’s our guest contributor today. Ray has some wise words for us, so pay attention. (And BTW Ray, I only use 3 names as my pen name. There are at least two other Lisa DeLays out there, and I owe them the gift of not being associated with my shenanigans!)
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The Christian Blogger’s Alchemy
-by Ray Hollenbach
About two years ago a well-known Christian contemporary singer came out as a lesbian. In a moment of what I mistook for inspiration, I wrote 700 words and hit the POST button on my blog. Overnight I received 20-times the page views I normally received. I woke up two days later with the blogger’s equivalent of hangover and the guilt from a one-night stand. My blog is supposed to be about spiritual formation: what did my opinions about someone else’s sexuality have to do with becoming a student of Jesus?
I had discovered Christian blogger’s alchemy: take a red-hot topic, add the name of a famous person (two famous people if you can), and add a sprinkle of holy Jesus words. Mix in Twitter and Facebook, then lean back and check Google Analytics hourly. It was a drunken, orgasmic blogger’s rush. What I didn’t know was that each page view clicked away a little bit of my soul. The new flood of traffic was the mess of pottage for which Esau sold his birthright.
It’s easy. In the past month you needed only write about Trayvon Martin, Mark Driscoll, Westboro Baptist Church, Obamacare in order to achieve mega-blogger status. Just check whatever is trending on Twitter or the Huffington Post, add a few borderline risqué words, a bit of righteous indignation, and heartfelt spirituality. “Heartfelt” is optional.
Lisa Colon Delay, the girl with three names, has given us a gift by starting this series, Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers. Sadly, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard were busy, so you’re stuck with me today. Here is my guidance:
It’s really about you: When we think we are discussing one topic, we are actually discussing another–ourselves. Blogging caters to the powerful urge for self disclosure. That’s why I throw away half of what I write. I’m too ugly, too mean-spirited for general consumption. I need to filter me. If I’m going to be honest, I should drive it home a little deeper: you need to filter you, too.
We would rather examine anyone else’s heart other than our own: Does it strike you odd that we can read one news item about a high-profile Christian celebrity and immediately have the ability to discern the intentions of their heart? This one is a bully, that one is a megalomaniac, and that other one must be called into account at all costs. I would give up my mighty blogging empire to read just one post where a blogger says, “Pastor Moneybags is a jerk, but why am I so upset about it?” Have you ever sent an email to the person you blogged about? How about sending a draft of your post to Pastor Moneybags and ask for his response? Would you be willing to wait for an answer? Deep down, we want others to understand our good intentions–why are we so quick to impugn the heart-intentions of others?
Criticism is easy, praise is hard: Let’s face it: there are plenty of easy targets out there. It says nothing about our marksmanship to shoot at something as big as barn ten feet in front of us. When we read “Love covers a multitude of sins,” have we ever applied Peter’s words to the other guy? Especially the church. Talk about an easy target. The church is filled with hypocrites and idiots. The church is enough to drive God himself crazy. Yet Jesus is passionately in love with the church. Why do we have grace for pagan terrorists and godless child molesters but cannot tolerate the fact that the church is filled with people just like us?
I could go on (I mean really, really go on), but here are a few mini-rants:
Page views don’t mean squat: At last count LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It had 225 million page views.
The passage you should tape on your computer: Proverbs 10:19
Read Chapter Nine of C.S. Lewis’ Reflection on the Psalms: You can thank me later.
The Hollenbach Twitter commandment: RT others five times more than you promote your own blog.
Most Important: Read http://StudentsofJesus.com every day.
Ray, a Chicagoan, writes about faith and culture. He currently lives in central Kentucky, which is filled with faith and culture. You can check out his work at studentsofjesus.com