Thinking Out Loud

February 24, 2011

Thinking Out Loud – Anniversary Edition

I remember years ago participating in a discussion about the “emerging” internet where the main concern ran something like this, “How are they ever going to get enough content to keep those websites supplied with fresh material?”

How indeed?

In 2011, a better question might be, “How does one find enough hours in the day to read all the sites they are subscribed to or have bookmarked?” I figure a typical week lands me on about 1,000 different types of internet sites, and I don’t consider myself a heavy online user. Every single person reading this actually has a completely unique internet experience weekly.

Today, this blog enters year four.

I have mixed feelings about that. I’m happy that this blog has become a voice albeit in a crowded room of voices all talking at once. I’m continually amazed — and somewhat humbled — that hundreds of you show up here every day, many just to see what’s been posted recently.

But these things were never set up as one-way communication. You hear people speak of “blog community” and I think there certainly is one, but increasingly the comments I moderate have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the blog post; they’re actually written in the hope that readers will link back to their own blog.

And then of course, there is the fact I am denied full participation in this very same blog community.

Some time back, someone masquerading as me posted something or did something that got me completely blocked from commenting at many of my favorite blogs. Even people I considered online “friends” like Pete Wilson, or people I’ve been reading for years before starting my own blog, such as Trevin Wax; the comments I leave (which are indeed appropriate and rather insightful) simply never appear.

Furthermore, if I log off WordPress, and attempt to leave a comment at my own blog, it is blocked.

It’s ironic because one of the things I found early on when I started this was a great deal of acceptance, so I’m highly sensitive to the present rejection. But online this can take many forms. For example, I’ve also been blocked from the chat room at my online church, North Point Community. Though I continue to faithfully watch NorthPoint Online every Sunday at 6:00 PM, and encourage others to also, my IP address apparently is blocked from participating in the after-sermon discussion. That’s like being told, “You can continue to attend our worship services, but you can’t be part of a small group.”

Not sure why.

There was a woman — I think it was a woman, but people use aliases in their comments — who was going through a hurting time and the discussion moderator was nowhere to be seen, so I recommended a book to her; a perfectly acceptable book, but one not written by Andy Stanley. Maybe that got me banned. Who knows.The clergy establishment sometimes gets really possessive when lay people start acting pastoral.

So look out, everyone. I’m a rebel. I’m a radical. I’m dangerous. Keep your daughters locked up.  I’m James Dean. (But in a George Costanza sort of way.)

Actually maybe I am sure why. Maybe like Hosea, God is allowing me to identify with all the other people out there who have felt rejection; including those who have been rejected by the church.

Back to the birthday party.

This is post number 1,454.

There is much to be thankful for today. I actually oversee seven blogs now, of which the latest, Christianity 201, has arrived on the scene since we celebrated this time last year. It keeps me humbled. Very humbled. While some endeavors in the Christian life remind you how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished, C201 reminds me of how far I’ve got to go.  Jesus set the bar rather high. A handful of you also read my book industry blog, Christian Book Shop Talk. It will celebrate a third birthday in August. Yesterday’s post had someone suggesting bookstores are going the way of record shops and video rental stores. Sigh. In that setting, I get to be a voice in an increasingly empty room.

Then there are the off-the-blog discussions.

Some of the best things that happen as a result of all this online activity are never seen online. And to the guy who drove an hour to the bookstore where I work only to find out I wasn’t there that day: Next time, get the staff person to write down your name. Better yet, let’s book it a day ahead, okay?

Anyway, I want to thank all of you who read, who write comments and who allow me to do the same on your blogs. To the latter group, you’ve really stimulated me to increase the time I spend reading Christian books, for which I am grateful.

As iron sharpens iron, so one blogger is sharpened by another. Even when they block his comments. (Couldn’t resist.) Many of you have also caused me to rethink some things that really matter. I’ve also enjoyed the benefits of being kept accountable.

Finally to the caricature artists who charcoaled me into a corner with the Joyce and Beth thing: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and ignorance is bliss. (And if you love something, set it free…) I’m sorry that I what I call information you call judgment, but that is, if you’ll pardon the turnaround, your judgment. Keep enjoying their books by all means, and keep loving people who prefer to be taught by others.

Closing thanks Mrs. W., the world’s best proofreader and editor (though usually a day after I’ve already posted something) and to all my sources, especially BDBO (you know who you are, but nobody else does) and the religion news pages at CNN and USAToday along with Canada’s Christian Week and Darryl Dash. And thanks to readers who send Wednesday Link List suggestions. And to Trevin and Pete and even Jon Acuff: Let’s prove to the world that it’s all about grace, okay?

*”Charcoaled me into a corner” — I couldn’t say “painted” because caricature artists work in chalk or charcoal, so that would be mixing metaphors, and “chalked” lost the coin toss.


  1. Happy Anniversary. I only read one blog and it is yours. I used to push into the crowded blog world and get lost in all the rooms full of words. But I downsized. When I laid my frequent stops out in a row, I carefully selected the one that makes me think, makes me smile and challenges my spirit. That was Thinking Out Loud.

    I am puzzled as to why you would be banned but love your identifying with Hosea. Who among the prophets didn’t cry out either in scripture or in their heart “I don’t understand you God. I am doing what you asked me to do but I am so rejected”?

    I know that blogging is often very hard to fit into a busy life and I am constantly amazed that you remain so generous.

    So Happy Anniversary! I am glad you are still here

    Comment by Cynthia — February 24, 2011 @ 9:10 am

    • Thanks, Cynthia.

      You’ve mentioned before that this is your sole blog these days, and it always amazes me. Regular readers are a necessity for a good blog, in that they keep the writer accountable in terms of consistency.

      Thanks for reading and your kind words.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 24, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  2. Happy Birthday, Paul. Keep Thinking Out Loud. It’s good for your soul, mine and the hundreds of others who drop by every day.

    And, just so you can pigeon-hole me (which I know you don’t and won’t do), I’m more in the Beth camp than in the Joyce camp…for what it’s worth (likely nothing).

    Keep writing!

    David, the Pilgrim

    Comment by David Fisher — February 24, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  3. Paul: you are not a G/C/seinfeld which I don’t watch,neither a James Dean.Down a lonely road in California you come to a dusty X road.A large sign declares: “James Deans last ride”Wf eulogies.Down the “road” for you and me et al there will be a Crossroad and a “Sign”: The declaration is already Pre-empted “Well done thou good and faithful servant!” All believers aspire to this glorious consummation! KISS(keep it simple (——-)((survivor!!))–RespectfullyJL

    Comment by Joe Lambert — February 24, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  4. After a long day at work, I go to this blog first and C201second. Thanks for making me think and hope you do for many a more years.
    PS because of your blog I asked my Mom to consider cutting her contribution to a certain jet- flying preacher because she herself was not making ends meet. Thanks.

    Comment by RR — February 24, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  5. Congratulations! Keep it up. I look forward to reading many more posts.

    I’ve got 95 feeds into google reader. You’ll be happy to know that I look at 94% of your posts, ahead of [78%] MichaelHyatt [50%] unclutterer [46%] and [21%]
    However, I apparently have more fun at Christian Book Shop Talk, [95% of posts read] Photoshop Disasters [100%] and Evangelism Coach Int’l [100%]

    Comment by Brian — February 24, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  6. Thanks for all your efforts, Paul. Thinking Out Loud is a daily stop for me because of the wide range of information you present.

    “1,000 different types of internet sites” — don’t know how, with your busy schedule, you do it … but I am glad you do (keeps me from having to do it myself :-)

    Comment by Jon Rising — February 25, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    • According to my history, I usually do at least 4,000 URLs a week, but many of them are multiple pages of the same site for business. But when you factor in news sites, blogs, sermon downloads, Bible study sites, and a few YouTube diversions, the 1,000 figure may be a bit low.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 25, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  7. Happy Bloggy Birthday…or whatever it would be called..I just found your blog today and I’m loving the links…I sent it to my dad too…He’s a big fan of Bruxy and Greg Boyd’s so I think he’ll enjoy your perspective.

    Comment by Jenn — February 25, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

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