I've been writing Country Parson for almost ten years. It would be nice, I sometimes think, if I had a large, loyal, enthusiastic readership. As it is, it's a small group of regulars, with an occasional burst when an article headline grabs attention through Google searches. A few readers come through The Christian Century blog network, of which I am an contributor. Every once in awhile I check Google Analytics to see where traffic comes from, and it's clear that scammers in Russia and China have tagged Country Parson as a site to monitor. What a waste of computer power that is!
Blogs are curious things. Although there are tens of thousands of them, only a handful continue for more than a few months. More often they are momentary tries at recording an important event or interest in one's life. When that's done, it's done. Even fewer are published regularly with fresh articles week after week. Like Country Parson, they are essentially one author journals, which, let's face it, can get pretty boring. How much of one author's writing can anyone take? How arrogant to think it's worthwhile for others to know what one thinks. At least newspapers are filled with a variety of columnists to choose from. Moreover, bloggers have no editors or fellow columnists to set reasonable standards and challenge what is being said. The very few that have large followings tend to be written by people who consider themselves to be D.C. insiders, Wall Street gurus, or noted spiritual leaders, and have convinced audiences that what they say is important to know. I’ve read a few of them over the years, discovering that they are merely reincarnations of old time Hollywood gossip mongers. It’s one part entertainment, and one part ego pandering to politicians who can’t wait to see “what they are saying about me.” With a large enough following, they can exert some influence. Columns from a Country Parson are seldom read, they bear little influence. So why do it?
I write on theology, politics, and economics because I have years of practical (not academic) experience with them. In a sense, they are the only things I know about. Should my observations have any merit greater than your own thoughts and ideas? Generally speaking, they don't, which is not to say that any opinion is as valid as any other. I try to offer well thought out commentary based on verifiable information. There is no question that the gospel informs my thinking about politics and economics, and for me that makes me a progressive on the center-left. Thirty years of experience in and on the edges of the political arena assure me that negotiation in good faith between persons of opposing views can, does, and has produced decent, workable public policy. It can again.
With all of that said, I write, as said a couple of years ago, mostly for myself. There is something comforting about getting words down on paper (or computer screen). It helps to clarify my own beliefs in the context of what others have written over the ages. If it is of value to someone else, so much the better. I hope it is.